In honor of Yud Alef Nissan
By Mrs. Sara Labkowski
As Yom Tov approaches, the memories of Pesach with the Rebbe bring tears to my eyes.
…Tears of joy for the z’chusim & accomplishments and tears of longing for the unreached expectations.
Stopping the matzo line for Machon Chana
Erev Pesach, the Rebbe stood for hours giving out matzo to his chassidim. In the early years, it was to all the men, who then shared the matzos with their families at the seder, adding emunah and gezunt. In later years, it was to the kollel men, who distributed the matzos to the masses of chassidim standing outside 770, waiting to receive a precious piece.
I rushed every year through the front entrance of 770 as representative of Machon Chana. As soon as I arrived, the Rebbe stopped the line and called me to approach him and receive matzo. He always gave me a package with a beautiful bracha for a “kosher un freilechen Pesach” to pass on to the students of his mother’s mosad. I used the opportunity to give the Rebbe good news of growth, and I even asked for personal brachos. The Rebbe once expressed his pain that there weren’t hundreds of new students, saying “metzaer li meod“
One year I was late and Rabbi J. J. Hecht, the financial director, offered to represent the school in my stead, the Rebbe replied that he was waiting for me. As a result, in 5739, I arrived in 770 directly from the hospital, leaving my day and half old newborn waiting with his father in the car.
The Rebbe’s Pesach visit: “Now I’m going Home“
Memories of the first seder night appear vividly in front of the eyes of the thousands of alumnae, staff and others who merited to be present when the Rebbe came to visit. The feelings of the great moment of the Rebbe’s visit are still tangible in the building today.
The z’chus was awesome. The Rebbe, whose every moment was precious, chose to visit a very select few mosdos, on the night of Pesach. Notable amongst them was Machon Chana. After visiting some of the other local mosdos, when the Rebbe then approached Machon Chana, he fondly remarked: “Now I’m going home.” “Yetz gei ich a heim.” The Rebbe toured the kitchen, asking if the food was “like at home” and not institutional cooking; and after observing the 100 girls standing around the tables, the Rebbe requested that each girl receive her own ka’arah and becher and real cutlery to experience freedom. He lovingly blessed the girls that next year they should each be hosting others in their own homes. The Rebbe warmly thanked the dorm parents, Mrs. Gita Gansburg and her late husband Reb Itche for raising his daughters: “A dank far hadeven meine techter.”
The Rebbe extended his incredible love for his mother to the mosad that was built to eternalize her memory. He expressed his love to the students who came from all over, to be mothered and nurtured in her home . He called them “my daughters.”
“ Where were my mekusharim when there was no food”
When finances were depleted and there was not enough food, the Rebbe blamed it on chassidim’s lack of sensitivity to support something so dear to him. “Aifo hayu hamikusharim ailai” he cried, underlining ailai (to me) three times..
“Whoever suspects me of being partial to Machon Chana is right!”
Though there are BH thousands of institutions belonging to the Rebbe, and BH many other Baalei Tshuva yeshivos today, Machon Chana always had and has a special place in the Rebbes heart. “Der vas iz mir choshed az ich bin a nogeah badar zu Machon Chana iz gerecht!” the Rebbe publically announced by a farbrengen before a Yud Shvat dinner. Every chassid could and should take part. Elul 5733, a year after its founding the Rebbe asked that a dinner be held on Vav Tishrei that will help both in rushnius and gashmius. The entire community was present and the Kollel yungeleit gave their dowry’s to purchase the building the Rebbe chose.
Machon Chana is now entering a new era. Exactly 40 years have passed since the memorable Yud Alef Nissan farbrengen which led to its establishment. It is a time of cheshbon hanfesh for Machon Chana to appreciate what has been achieved thus far, and to reflect on how we can utilize this milestone to increase these achievements manyfold and it is a time of cheshbon hanefesh for chassidim to reflect on how much was done to help out a mossad so dear to the Rebbe and how much more can be done in this area entering this new era.
What better time than Yud Alef Nissan A time when we all seek gifts to give to the Rebbe, to present the Rebbe with a renewed commitment to support this mossad so close to his heart.
How can we help?
Yes Rebbe, I am a Mukusher to you!
The Rebbe envisioned Machon Chana as the university for every Jewish women looking to grow in Judaism, a real Machon L’yahadus. The Rebbe expected every chassid, mekusher and admirer that feels close to him, to support his mother’s legacy and help it grow.
Let us all say with pride today: “Yes Rebbe. I love your mosad as much as you, and will do all I could to help it grow. I am a mekusher to you!
Mrs. Sara Labkowski,
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